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Advancements In Dental Technology

The world is in no shortage of amazing dental innovations. Gone are the days where dentistry was torture. And of the literal kind—think of manually scraping tooth decay with a stone tool or undergoing operations without anesthesia. And while dental fear and anxiety are still very real, dentistry’s done an excellent job making the dental experience less traumatic than it used to be. Most of the time, however, we tend to overlook these amazing dental solutions that have brought us to where we are now.

In a way, some of the items on our list aren’t as mind-blowing as you’d expect them to be. For the most part, these “amazing dental feats” are in fact things we use on the daily, or things we’re acquainted with when we go to the dental office. But imagine for a minute what it’d be like without these things. Dental hygiene and care would be quite the nightmare—not to mention non-existent. 

That said, what are the amazing dental solutions that have changed dental care as we know it? The recognition goes to the following:

Anesthesia: If you’re naturally anxious about going to the dentist or any medical profession, chances are you’ve had to undergo some heavy anesthesia. And because of that, chances are you don’t remember getting the operation done in the first place after. Indeed, anesthesia has probably saved a lot of people’s lives and sanity, whether on the dentist’s chair or the operating table. So when you can, be sure to thank your anesthesiologist—chances are they’ve not only kept you calm but also alive as well.

Caries Detection Solution: This refers to a liquid red dye that dentists smear over a tooth. This dye can verify that tooth decay is completely gone post-treatment. Indeed, this is identical to plaque disclosing tablets. These tablets help show spots that were missed or not thoroughly cleaned after brushing.

Desensitizers: Desensitizers can be utilized by the dental hygienist or dentist before the dental treatment is performed if the patient has sensitive teeth. These offer comfort all throughout the procedure. Dentists may use these alone or together with other anxiety and pain relievers including sedation dentistry or a local anesthetic.

Digital X-rays: Digital X-rays provide a way to capture dental images via a sensor. This sensor transforms the image onto a computer screen. This latest dental technology can now provide more comfort than conventional X-rays. They can also eliminate over-exposure to radiation. Furthermore, 4 digital radiographs are approximately equal to 1 paper X-ray.

Electric Handpieces: These dental tools aid in dental hygiene procedures. Dentists may use them alongside rotary cutting instruments. Likewise, they provide gentle delivery, and as a result, ensure less stress is put on the healthy tooth framework. These are quieter as well.

Intra-Oral Cameras: These can help produce precise images of the teeth and the supporting framework. They let your dentist, your dental technician, and even you see tooth defects. These can help you know more about the significance of good oral hygiene practices, such as where to concentrate when brushing your teeth.

Laser therapy
Unless you’re a special kind of person, chances are surgery isn’t your favorite thing to get. The traditional cut-and-sew method when it comes to dental operations isn’t exactly the best thing in the world, especially with the soreness and bleeding that comes after. Fortunately, the use of lasers in periodontal surgery is an amazing dental solution that’s slowly gaining popularity. And for a good reason, too—aside from being less bloody than its conventional counterpart, it also has the added bonus of helping your wounds heal faster. 

Lasers can also improve the appearance of our pearly whites. In about an hour-long procedure at the dentist office, you can have laser teeth whitening done. A bleach-containing gel is applied to the teeth and is activated by a laser, making the teeth brighter and whiter than ever before.

Optical Scanners: These can provide a clear digital map of the tooth. In the same way, it is capable of making a 3D replica model of the dental framework. They help provide precise color analysis for cosmetic restorations created in a dental lab like bridges, crowns, and veneers.

Wand: This pertains to a digital dental tool which helps administer anesthesia in a methodic and gradual approach. The sensation of pain typically from an injection is due to an outcome of the injection of the liquid’s pressure.

Moreover, the gradual and gentle delivery linked with using the wand commonly makes injections a lot more comfortable and pain-free. This tool’s delivery holder is tiny and is quite easy to use.

Nowadays, more and more dental technologies become available for dental professionals to select. The perks that you can obtain by visiting the dentist now can offer you more ease and comfort than ever before.

Computer-assisted relaxation learning, or CARL, is a dental assistant of sorts that helps alleviate signs of dental fear and anxiety

Computers Helping Combat Dental Fear

Another recent advance is CARL, or computer-assisted relaxation learning. CARL helps patients deal with injection-based dental fear and anxiety (DFA). For this, the dental assistant makes use of systematic desensitization—a type of therapy where you’re exposed bit by bit to the things you fear until you don’t fear them anymore. 

But how does CARL use systemic desensitization? 

Computer-assisted relaxation learning helps patients heal themselves

What you first need to know about CARL is that it is self-paced. This is crucial for several reasons. Because the dental assistant uses systematic desensitization, you need to make sure that the pace of exposure doesn’t overwhelm the patient. The method is already traumatic in itself. Because it’s mostly used to treat phobias, patients have to face what triggers them gradually. And it’s not exactly the most pleasant experience to confront the thing you fear the most. By putting the treatment at a pace that’s comfortable for the patient, it makes it a little less unpleasant to go through. 

Placing the pace of treatment in the patient’s hands also helps give them a sense of control over the situation. When you’ve gone through a harrowing experience, it can throw you off in a way that makes you feel hopeless. Regaining that sense of agency, then, becomes a crucial part of the healing process and helps the patient in the long term. 

When we say self-paced, however, this isn’t just limited to when they spend time on the assistant. An article by the Dental Tribune on a study with CARL notes that patients can “stop the video at any time” to report their fear levels. If they’re particularly high, CARL can redirect patients to a less stressful video until they’re able to take the next step.  

A combination of videos and relaxation techniques

But how does CARL work, exactly? For the most part, it uses videos. The Dental Tribune article notes that two of these videos taught techniques patients can use to combat fear. The other seven videos show an actor getting a dental injection step-by-step. These videos serve to expose the patient to the trigger gradually. 

With every point of exposure, the patient should ideally use the techniques they learned in the training videos to lessen anxiety when faced with them. In the study, patients are asked to do this at least once a week for 30 minutes. This might seem like a lax pace to some, but the researchers noted a significant improvement in these participants. Particularly as opposed to the control group, who went over a pamphlet with a dental assistant.

CAD/CAM System And What You Need To Know About It

When your teeth are cracked, chipped, weak, discolored, or you simply want to improve your smile, one of the options your dentist might suggest is a dental crown.

A dental crown is a type of dental restoration that gets placed on a tooth. It protects a weak tooth and helps restore a broken tooth. Additionally, it can help hold a dental bridge in place as well as cover a tooth with misshaping or discoloring.

To install a dental crown, the patient needs two separate dental visits. The first visit involves the preparation of the tooth and the creation of an impression. The cementing of a temporary crown also takes place.

Two dental appointments can be time-consuming for some. Moreover, these appointments can interfere with daily schedules. Taking an impression can be uncomfortable, and a temporary crown can be unsightly and difficult to adjust to at first.

Fortunately, dentistry continues to improve, moving away from the inefficient processes and towards comfort, speed, and quality.

Through the CAD/CAM system, dental restorations that traditionally involve several dental visits, waiting periods, and uncomfortable dental impressions can now be done in a single visit.

CAD/CAM, which stands for computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing, has been incorporated in dentistry through CAD/CAM Dentistry. The CAD/CAM dental technology is capable of many dental procedures. This includes digital impressions and design to the production of full restorations, surgical guides, fixed partial & complete dentures, implant abutments, and orthodontic appliances.

You may be asking, so what? But, this dental technology is not only impressive for its abundant capabilities. CAD/CAM dental technology allows same-day crowns, bridges, dentures, implants, veneers, among others. This is because it allows the restoration to be done right in the dental office that very same day.

How Does CAD/CAM Work?

CAD/CAM often consists of three parts: the computer system, milling unit, and software.

The computer system features the hardware used for viewing and designing the restoration. The milling unit points the machine to shape the restoration. The software consists of data or instructions which the computer system processes to create the restoration.

Curious How These Three Work Together? Here’s How:

With the use of a computer program, the crown, in-lay, etc. are designed. The information is then sent to the milling machine for fabrication. Once this stage is completed, the finished restoration is all set for cementation or bonding in place.

Because of this system, the patient can complete his or her procedure in one appointment and without the need to wear a provisional restoration.

Future Tech: Could We Regrow Teeth One Day?

At the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Japan, researchers found a way to extract cells in the mouth to help form teeth. Researchers split these cells, or “germs,” and implanted them into the jaws of mice to test whether or not new teeth would grow.

After approximately 15 days, the cells finally began to form into teeth. There’s a catch, though. The mice in the experiment only had teeth grow about half the size of their original teeth. However, this could possibly be useful in helping children with missing teeth or those who have underdeveloped teeth due to Down syndrome or cleft lip.

Considering there are millions of denture wearers worldwide, with over a million of those only 16 to 44 in age, this method of growing your own teeth could be very helpful in limiting the need for dentures.

In fact, by age 74, 26 percent of adults no longer have any of their permanent teeth. However, with this technology, it could greatly reduce the need for these artificial devices.

As for patients with one or a few lost teeth, because dental implants are typically implanted with a titanium screw, many dental patients find this to be a major concern for a few reasons. Some concern about the safety of this material. Others fear there will be significant pain during the procedure. But growing-your-own-teeth method being natural as you’re using your own body’s cells to regrow teeth, the body recognizes the newly-grown teeth and will not reject them like with many dental implant cases.

Stem Cell Research: An End To Root Canals?

The Wyss Institute of Harvest University and the University of Nottingham are working ways dentists could heal one’s tooth using their own stem cells. As of right now, though, the scientists apart of this study have been given exceptional recognition for their potential discovery. In fact, they received an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Many of you are probably already smiling at the idea, but not so fast. At this stage, cell cultures are still require testing in laboratories. Their next test will involve rodents. The good news is that stem cells could very well be the answer to the end of root canals. Unfortunately, the time this procedure could be used on humans is unknown.

It could take years and years of research and testing to even been introduced to today’s dentists. For now, though, it’s safe to say that this research is successful.

So, Why is This New Research So Vital?

It’s important to note that the materials used to fill a tooth contain substances that are harmful to the oral cells. With this new research, however, scientists are hoping to put those toxic fillings to an end. Instead, they plan to help recreate part of a patient’s tooth, a much safer and more natural approach.

As well as this, the potential to use stem cells for root canals could end the loud, painful, anxiety-causing, conventional drill-based method of performing a root canal. The goal with this new regeneration method is to help millions of patients around the world realize that dental procedures don’t have to be scary.

Imagine reduced dental anxiety for patients all across the globe. More and more patients would actually opt for treatment rather than avoiding the dental office out of fear. In turn, the overall oral standing of patients everywhere would dramatically increase.

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